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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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P
RODUCTION CYCLE
In This Chapter
• Design Production Cycle
Art Production Cycle
Engineering Production Cycle
• Working Together
17.1 I
NTRODUCTION
W
hen pre-production is completed, you will have a clear idea of the
game that is being made, how to make it, who is going to do the work,
and how much time you have to do it. It is important to note that there
is not a definite point where pre-production ends and production begins. The
transition will be gradual. For instance, while art and engineering begin work-
ing on the features outlined in the core design documentation, design is still
busy designing the actual mission scenarios that appear in the game. Also, art
will begin production on some assets, while still prototyping others. Engineering
begins coding the game but might still be working on technical prototypes for
some of the minor features.
What’s important about production is that the team can start implementing
the plan and watch the game take shape. So even though some small details are
still being worked out, production can begin after the major aspects of the game
are defined and approved. The main tasks occurring in production are imple-
menting the plan, tracking the game’s progress, and finishing the game. It is the
Chapter 17
296 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
producer’s responsibility during production to manage these tasks smoothly and
deal with any surprises or problems.
Every producer hopes that they have planned for every possible contingency
during pre-production, and production is where this plan is put to the test.
However, on a game that takes two years to develop, it is a bit optimistic to think
that a plan made in January 2007 will be completely valid 18 months later in June
2008. Games change and grow with time, and a plan made more than a year ago
might not take into account the hot new graphics feature that marketing wants
added to the game. This is why the producer must be constantly vigilant about
the game’s progress during production, so that high-risk areas are identified and
corrected, and that high-priority feature requests can be accommodated when
necessary.
During production, the producer’s day-to-day tasks will involve interfacing
with the leads and team on a daily basis, assessing the game’s progress, evaluat-
ing gameplay, working with QA, keeping management happy, providing assets
to marketing, working with external vendors, approving milestones, filling out
paperwork, and a host of other things. Each day will be different; on some days,
there may be several fires to put out, and on other days, you can spend your time
catching up on work. Whatever a day brings, be prepared to get the production
back on track so the game ships on time. Chapter 18, “Production Techniques,”
discusses some ways for producers to manage the production cycle.
Of course, the art, design, engineering, and QA departments are also busy
during production. Each discipline is working hard on their assigned tasks.
Individuals can complete some tasks on their own or with help from someone
in their discipline, but other tasks will require multiple people and disciplines
to complete. If the team is enthusiastic and has high morale, getting them to
work well with each other won’t be difficult. They will become involved in each
other’s work, offer feedback, and work together to make the game the best it
can be.
KEEPING THE PROJECT ON TRACK
Jeff Matsushita, Executive Producer
Activision
If a project is in trouble, you might not see any tangible evidence, such as missed
milestones or personnel burnout, until it is too late. By then the project might be in
such a desperate situation that it will take much more time and money to get it back
on track than if it was caught early. And, if ample time and money are not available

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